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Tech giants fight patent reform

IBM, Microsoft and the Software Alliance are against expansion of patent reviews by the USPTO

In his State of the Union address, President Obama emphasized his support of patent reform legislation currently under consideration in Congress. Many large companies have voiced their support for the bill, including tech companies like Cisco, Google and others. But not every big business is in favor of the proposed reforms, and many banded together to express that displeasure.

The Senate Judiciary Committee received a letter from The Software Alliance and more than one hundred other groups. The letter addressed the proposed expansion of the patent-review program in place at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), claiming that it would hurt American innovation and harm America’s competitive advantage around the world.

Companies like IBM, Microsoft and Qualcomm endorsed the letter, criticizing the covered business method (CBM) review, as first outlined in the America Invents Act (AIA). In addition to these tech giants, companies in the financial and pharmaceutical sector signed off on the letter, as did a consortium of American universities, which has previously filed complaints as a non-practicing entity (NPE).

Proponents of the CBM state that it will give companies ammunition to deal with frivolous lawsuits brought by NPE, also known as patent trolls, helping eliminate low-quality patents. But the signees of the letter believe that the patent system already in place is sufficient, especially in light of the changes that were made with the passage of the AIA.

General counsel and state attorneys general alike have turned their attention to the issue of patent trolls, and an assortment of AGs and GCs will be speaking about the topic at an upcoming roundtable event. The free event will take place on Feb. 4, 2014 from 3:00-5:00 pm at the Intercontinental New York Barclay. It will feature the attorneys general from Nebraska, Missouri and Vermont as well as the general counsel from Walmart, du Pont and Rackspace. For more information, or to register for the event, click here.


For more on patent trolls, check out the following:

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley looks to slay patent trolls

Fee-shifting in patent cases: Will proposed legislation actually change anything?

IP: Subject matter conflicts of interest in patent prosecution – Case law

Senior Editor and Community Manager

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Rich Steeves

Richard P. Steeves is Senior Editor and Community Manager of InsideCounsel magazine, where he covers the intellectual property and compliance beats. Rich earned a B.A....

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